Fringe Performance


Dance Base, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

five stars

YOU laugh. Of course you do, because writer and performer Pat Kinevane has the knack of comedic observation and the wit to make frailties and foibles funny. But the laughter is only setting you up for what will - like a pebble in your shoe - stop you in your tracks. Kinevane’s previous solo excursions have explored issues of neglect in old age (Forgotten),  homelessness, homophobia and suicide (Silent) and prejudice against those who are noticeably ‘different’ (Underneath). Now he confronts us with Before, giving voice to a man who has been totally edited out of his daughter’s life by her hostile mother. His character, the self-effacing (still single) farmer Pontius, is now about to meet the grown girl after seventeen distant years. He’s going up to Dublin and - it being her 21st birthday - he will even brave Clery’s posh department store in search of a perfect present before it shuts up shop for ever. 
Would you think to make a song and dance out of this man’s travails? Kinevane does. He enlists his trusted long-time collaborators - director Jim Culleton and composer Denis Clohessy - and recruits choreographer Emma O’Kane, and conjures up a play-cum-musical that is all the more amusing and bittersweet because yer man Pontius hates musicals with a deep-rooted passion. Kinevane’s writing deftly criss-crosses the harsh disappointments of Pontius’s early years and adult life with the essentially escapist, often improbable stuff of stage and screen musicals. There’s a mordantly subversive edge to his lyrics, Clohessy’s melodies hint knowingly at hits from Cabaret, Oklahoma and other well-known shows while O’Kane pays homage to Fosse - and wow! does Kinevane hoof and tap with insouciant panache. As the past swirls into play, so too do cogent reflections on parenting: the needs and responsibilities, the presence and absence of love that affects us at any age. You fight back tears. Of course you do. It’s Kinevane - a rare and truly compelling talent.